A Tribute To Patrice Emery Lumumba, On The 80th Anniversary Of His Birth

July 2005

by Elombe Brath

Saturday, July 2, 2005 will be the anniversary of the 80th birthday of the Honorable Patrice Lumumba, one of the most illustrious martyrs and ancestors of a pantheon of heroes who fought and died for Africa's liberation in the post-World II period, who was assassinated because of the exigency of U.S. and western European imperialist interests during the Cold War. The first prime minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which received its independence on June 30, 1960, Patrice Lumumba was denounced by the leading powers in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) because he dared to speak truth to power during his independence inaugural speech when he criticized the tyrannical genocidal colonial regime of King Leopold II of Belgium and its successor for their dreadful treatment of the Congolese people.


Led by the New York Times and other major media outlets in the U.S., Lumumba was castigated because he refused to genuflect to the Belgian government's contention that the Congolese should be gracious to Belgium, particularly its royalty, for actually granting them independence instead of having an ungrateful prime minister bringing up the sordid past and spoiling the whole celebrations.


Born in Kasai Province among the Batetela people, on July 2, 1925, Lumumba attended mission schools, and would later work in a post office and a local brewery. It was during this time that his observations of the racial and class relations differed, with whites in positions of power and Black were basically subjected to the impoverished struggling working class. It was this observation that would lead him to engage in political activities and his formation of the Mouvement Nationale Congolaise (MNC), the Congolese National Movement, a political party that projected a national program instead of many other parties that were more ethnically based and envisioned a more specific but limited agenda.


Lumumba is the second internationally renowned African leader out of three important world renowned figures that was born in 1925, in the three cardinal points of the Pan-African world and ascended before their 35th birthday in the early 1960s, and recognized as revolutionary anti-imperialist Pan-Africanists by hundred of thousands, in fact millions, of people around the world. The first of the three born in 1925, was Malcolm X, also known as Brother Omowale and Al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz, the orthodox Muslim name he had taken upon taking his shahada as a Sunni Muslim – the name he upheld when he was assassinated because of his relentless fight against anti-African racism and European imperialist exploitation. I assume that most people know, he was born in Omaha, Nebraska, baptized as Malcolm Little, the fourth child of Earl and Louise Little, both members of Marcus Garvey's Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League. And throughout his life he encountered many trials and tribulations, as well as tributes to the man whom Ossie Davis dubbed a "shining Black prince" for his tremendous contributions to the Pan-Africanist struggle for liberation.


The third member of this triumvirate of the revolutionary class of 1925 is Frantz Fanon, who was born on July 20, 1925 in the French colony of Martinique, in the Caribbean, and became the revolutionary psychiatrist who theoretical concepts energized the Algerian revolution in Northern Africa, whose classic books like "The Wretched of the Earth", "Black Skins, White Masks", "A Dying Colonialism", impacted heavily on the growth of revolutionary consciousness among Africans on the continent and in the diaspora.


On Tuesday, July 2nd, the Patrice Lumumba Coalition and Afrikaleidoscope, WBAI, 99.5 FM, in conjunction with the International African Arts Festival, will present a special historic tribute to Patrice Lumumba on what would have been his 80th birthday. The program will take place between 2PM and 4PM, at the 34th Annual International African Arts Festival at Commodore Barry Park, located in Downtown Brooklyn, on Navy Street, between Park and Flushing Avenues. With this year's theme being "Imani – Building By Faith", and the segment devoted to Lumumba's memory will define this theme in presenting a politicultural "innertainment" program, reviewing the last 45 years of the independence of the Democratic Republic of Congo.


During the last four decades empirical data has shown that what has been agreed to be potentionally one of the richest country's in the world was reduced to, both symbolically and literally, a basket case for the overwhelming masses of African people in the Congo when it was controlled for 37 years by the U.S. and Belgium by their stooge Mobutu Sese Seko, the man who the CIA used to usurp Lumumba's government and later assassinate him in order to continue to exploit the country for their benefit and the detriment of the Congolese masses.


This historic neocolonialist factor was also been detrimental to most of the African continent and millions of African people in the diaspora. After the fall of Mobutu in May of 1997, which was supposed to end more than a century of misery for the Congolese by western imperialist vested interests, the relief was diverted to additional problems. As the subsequent attempt to redress the grievances of the Congolese people was initiated by the succeeding government established by the Alliance of Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Congo/Zaire, led by Laurent Kabila, one of the last of the cadre which had supported Lumumba, re-established his Democratic Republic of Congo, western intervention was introduced again to block any semblance of Lumumba's vision enacted. As a result, the U.S. used local client states, Uganda and Rwanda, to wage a debilitating war to get rid of Laurent Kabila, which might have succeeded had it not been for the military support given to the DRC government by Angola, Zimbabwe and Namibia, three countries which won their independence by armed struggle against western imperialism and its collaborators.


Tragically, the pro-capitalist western cabal did succeed in getting rid of Kabila, engineering his assassination 40 years to the day of their earlier murder of Lumumba. But when to total plot failed when Kabila's son, General Joseph Kabila, was chosen as the DRC's interim president until elections could be held. However, the counterrevolutionary war has undermined many of the developmental plans of the government and the suffering of the Congolese masses, which over the last seven years has claimed nearly four million lives. Indeed, it has been reported that more people have died as a result of the war in the DRC than in all of the wars combined since World War II!


All of these factors will be explored through solidarity statements, praise songs, music, dance and poetry in the commemorative event being planned in regards to the DRC's 45th independence and the 80th birthday anniversary of Patrice Lumumba on Saturday, July 2nd at the 34th Annual International African Arts Festival.


Further information can be obtained by calling Kwame Brathwaite at 212-410-7892


General Admission is Free – For further information call 718-638-6700